- /di troyt"/, n.1. a city in SE Michigan, on the Detroit River. 1,203,339.2. a river in SE Michigan, flowing S from Lake St. Clair to Lake Erie, forming part of the boundary between the U.S. and Canada. ab. 32 mi. (52 km) long.3. the U.S. automobile industry.
* * *City (pop., 2000: 951,270), largest in Michigan, U.S. Located on the Detroit River and founded by the French in 1701, it became a trading centre for the Great Lakes region.It surrendered to the British during the French and Indian War, then came under U.S. control in 1796. The capital of Michigan from 1805 to 1847, it grew as one of the country's shipping and flour-milling centres. In the 20th century it became the automobile capital of the world with the help of Henry Ford. The city's industrial growth attracted migrants, at first Europeans and later Southern blacks, who by 1990 made up three-fourths of the population. The decline in the area's automotive industry brought economic hardship in the late 20th century. Wayne State University (1868) is the city's oldest college.
* * *Introductioncity, seat of Wayne county, southeastern Michigan, U.S., on the Detroit River (connecting Lakes Erie and St. Clair), opposite Windsor, Ont., Can. It was founded in 1701 by a French trader, Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac (Cadillac, Antoine Laumet de La Mothe), who built a fort on the river and named it Fort-Pontchartrain-du-Détroit in honour of his patron (the French word détroit meaning “strait”); later the British called it simply Detroit. In the 20th century the city's name became synonymous with the American automotive industry. Pop. (2000) city, 951,270; Detroit-Warren-Livonia MSA, 4,452,557; Detroit-Livonia-Dearborn MD, 2,061,162; (2006 est.) city, 871,121; Detroit-Warren-Livonia MSA, 4,468,966; Detroit-Livonia-Dearborn MD, 1,971,853.The city layoutDetroit is situated on a broad, generally flat plain. The downtown area retains vestiges of a hexagonal street pattern laid out early in the 19th century that largely disappeared as the city expanded. Most of the city's commercial and civic buildings are concentrated in the downtown area near the river and include the City-County Building; Cobo Hall, a convention and exhibit building; Cobo Arena; and the Renaissance Center (completed in 1977), which includes a 73-story hotel. Many of the city's museums and the public library, however, are located about 2 miles (3 km) to the northwest in the Detroit Cultural Center. Suburbs ring Detroit, including across the Detroit River in Canada, and the city completely surrounds the communities of Hamtramck and Highland Park.The people and economyDetroit's population grew dramatically between 1850 and 1950. The city's industrial growth was a magnet for migrants, at first chiefly European immigrants and later blacks from the South. The population has declined steadily since the mid-1950s, however, in part because much of the white community moved to the suburbs and also because of the loss of industry. By the early 1990s, some three-fourths of the population was black.Detroit has a diversified manufacturing and shipping base, but the city's economy remains unusually sensitive to the fortunes of the automotive industry. As a result, economic booms and depressions have been felt more heavily in Detroit than in most areas of the country. In addition to motor vehicles and automotive parts, the city's factories produce machinery (including industrial robots), steel, and chemicals; the service industry has become increasingly important.Roads dominate Detroit's transportation system and include an extensive network of express highways. The city is connected to Windsor by a bridge and a tunnel. The Detroit River is heavily used by Great Lakes shipping, and the region's port facilities handle large quantities of raw materials. The Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport is located about 17 miles (27 km) southwest of downtown.Cultural lifeAmong the colleges and universities in the city are Wayne State University (1868) and the University of Detroit Mercy (1877). Important cultural institutions include the Cranbrook Academy of Art in suburban Bloomfield Hills and the Detroit Institute of Arts. The Henry Ford Museum in suburban Dearborn holds an extensive collection of transportation equipment, while the adjoining Greenfield Village contains reconstructions of early American buildings and exhibits of early crafts. Since 1914 Detroit has maintained a symphony orchestra; summer concerts are presented at the Meadow Brook Music Festival in nearby Rochester. Belle Isle Park, in the Detroit River, has a botanical garden, a children's zoo, and an aquarium.HistoryIn the early 18th century Detroit became an important fur-trading post. In 1760, during the French and Indian War, it was surrendered to the British. France's Indian allies, notably the Ottawa under Chief Pontiac, tried to capture the fort in 1763 but were defeated. The Jay Treaty (Nov. 19, 1794) provided for the evacuation of the British in the Northwest Territories, and in 1796 Detroit came under American control.In 1805 Detroit became the capital of the newly created Michigan Territory. In that same year a fire destroyed many buildings, and the town had to be rebuilt. Soon after the outbreak of the War of 1812, Detroit was again surrendered to the British, but the Americans recaptured it in September 1813. In 1815 Detroit was incorporated as a city.In 1818 the first steamboat on the upper Great Lakes began regular runs between Buffalo, N.Y., and Detroit. Grain and other agricultural produce poured into the city by rail and water for processing and forwarding to other parts of the nation or to Europe. Detroit became one of the flour-milling centres of the country. It was the capital of Michigan state from its creation in 1837 until 1847, when the capital was moved to Lansing.Following the American Civil War (1861–65) Detroit changed from its early role as a country merchant to that of industrial magnate. It became the automobile capital of the world with the help of the manufacturer Henry Ford (Ford, Henry), who introduced the assembly line in 1914. Detroit's industrial development accelerated during World War I, when it was an important producer of military armaments, and it attracted a large number of migrants, particularly blacks from the South. In 1943 fighting broke out between whites and blacks in the city. Other racial disturbances occurred in 1967 and caused extensive property damage.The subsequent departure of many whites from the city and loss of jobs in the area's automotive industry brought economic hardship and social problems. Nonetheless, a municipal rebuilding program initiated after World War II was pursued and was especially effective at rejuvenating the city's riverfront.
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